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United States Supreme Court Decisions

The North Carolina attorney general’s office is asking a federal court not to restore the state's 20-week abortion ban after the judge suggested his previous injunction “may now be contrary to law.” The attorney general’s office argued in a brief filed late Monday that reinstating restrictions in the aftermath of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade would create “significant risk of public confusion” about the availability and legality of abortion services in North Carolina. Staff attorneys in Stein’s office filed the brief without the attorney general’s involvement.

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The Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights threatens to upend firearms restrictions across the country as activists wage court battles over issues including age limits and bans on AR-15-style guns. The June decision struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public. The decision has led one judge to temporarily block a Colorado town from enforcing a ban on the sale and possession of certain semi-automatic weapons. The ruling could reshape gun laws in the U.S. even as mass shootings push the issue into the headlines. The Biden administration and police departments across the U.S. are struggling to combat a surge in violent crime.

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A Christian flag that became the focus of a free speech battle that went to the Supreme Court has been taken down after briefly flying outside Boston City Hall. Wednesday's flag-raising took place three months after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the the city discriminated against Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution group because of his “religious viewpoint” when it refused permission for him to fly the banner on City Hall Plaza in 2017. The flag was up for about two hours before Camp Constitution took it down. The city has proposed new flag-raising rules.

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A bipartisan group of senators is pushing compromise legislation to restore abortion access in the wake of the June Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The bill is a long-shot effort to put a majority of the Senate on the record opposing the decision. The legislation introduced by two Republicans and two Democrats on Monday is not expected to pass or even get a vote. Yet it's intended to signal that a majority of the Senate supports codifying Roe, even if senators can’t get the necessary 60 votes to pass the measure in the narrowly divided Senate.

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Anti-abortion groups are looking to the courts, lawmakers and elections to facilitate more abortion restrictions and bans after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June left the issue up to states. After a half-century of pushing for restrictions, social conservatives are in a new place: Defending bans in court. And while several states already had deep restrictions queued up ahead of the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, abortion opponents are looking to lawmakers in others to follow suit. The outcomes of elections across the country in November could be key to whether they can accomplish those aims.

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The concept of personhood that underlies anti-abortion laws in some states considers fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses as people with the same rights as those already born. Some who oppose abortion say the standard would end almost all abortions and that it brings moral clarity to debates about the procedure. But other abortion opponents insist exceptions should be made in cases of rape and incest, or to protect the life of the pregnant woman. Abortion rights supporters say personhood could hamper in-vitro fertilization or subject women who have abortions to murder charges. At least five states have adopted personhood laws or constitutional amendments. Georgia's law is the most extensive, granting tax breaks and child support to fetuses.

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West Virginia lawmakers have passed up the chance to become the first state to approve new legislation restricting access to abortions after the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The Senate on Friday adopted its bill along with amendments, one of which removes criminal penalties for physicians who perform illegal abortions. The House of Delegates, which passed its bill Wednesday, then refused to concur with the Senate's amendments. Instead the House asked for a conference committee to iron out the bill's differences. In Indiana, senators are expected to vote Saturday on a measure that includes an exception for rape and incest victims, an issue that's dividing some abortion opponents.

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Justice Samuel Alito mocked foreign leaders’ criticism of the Supreme Court decision he authored overturning a constitutional right to abortion, in his first public comments since last month’s ruling. The justice’s remarks drew more criticism as well as some support. Speaking in Rome at a religious liberty summit, Alito spent only a couple of minutes on the subject of abortion, and then only to discuss his foreign critics _ an unusual step for a high court justice. Alito singled out Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Harry of Great Britain, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The decision by the court’s conservative majority led roughly a dozen states to shut down or severely restrict abortions within days.

The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that same-sex marriages are recognized nationwide. The House-passed legislation has some Republican support and is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate in September. It is part of an effort by Democrats to protect various rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. While the Senate is not expected to approve separate House efforts to legalize abortion or protect contraception rights, the same-sex marriage bill has a real shot at passage after a handful of Republicans indicated they would vote for it.

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An Alabama inmate convicted of killing his former girlfriend decades ago has been executed despite pleas from the victim’s family to spare his life. Joe Nathan James Jr. was pronounced dead Thursday night after a lethal injection at an Alabama prison. He drew the death penalty for the 1994 shooting death of 26-year-old Faith Hall in Birmingham. Hall’s two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, recently said they had forgiven James and unsuccessfully pleaded that he serve life in prison. But Alabama’s attorney general had urged Gov. Kay Ivey to let the execution proceed so justice could be served.

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Some Democratic candidates in statewide down-ballot races have decided to make abortion access key to their campaigns. They're doing so even when it may not have an obvious connection to the office. A Connecticut state treasurer candidate is airing ads in which she promises to “lead the crusade” for abortion rights and to push companies in which the state invests to fund abortion access. A Wisconsin treasurer candidate has asked donors to help her “fight to codify Roe.” A state auditor candidate in Ohio likes to remind voters that his role on the state's political mapmaking commission could also influence abortion access.

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With new abortion restrictions clamping down in Georgia, Democrats hope their advocacy of abortion rights will lure moderates and shore up enthusiasm. That gambit could determine a U.S. Senate seat and the governor's race in the South's premier swing state. Democrats will make their pitch in places like affluent eastern Cobb County, hoping to lure college-educated women away from Republicans. They'll be fighting against GOP candidates focused on the economy, a flip from historical patterns where Republicans sought to motivate voters with opposition to abortion. However, some Democrats fear that support for abortion rights won't be enough to win in November.

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A North Dakota judge has put on hold the state’s trigger law banning abortion pending resolution of a lawsuit that argues the law violates the state constitution. The judge sided with the state's only abortion clinic in ruling that the attorney general had prematurely started a 30-day clock that would have made the ban take effect Thursday. Attorney General Drew Wrigley said he would immediately re-file to start the clock on another 30-day countdown. The owner of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo has said she will relocate to nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, if litigation doesn't block the ban.

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The Seattle City Council has voted to make the city a sanctuary for abortion providers and patients, meaning Seattle police will not cooperate in arrests or investigations related to abortion bans in other states. The Seattle Times reports the bill passed Tuesday, which Councilmember Kshama Sawant introduced, deems Seattle a “sanctuary city” for those who seek or provide abortion. While abortion remains legal across Washington state, the new legislation bars Seattle police from arresting people on warrants issued in other jurisdictions or helping in investigations related to seeking or performing abortions. It follows the model of a Seattle initiative which stopped the Seattle police from pursuing charges based on cannabis, which remains federally illegal.

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In a story published July 20, 2022 about the Respect for Marriage Act, The Associated Press cited a June Gallup poll that implied the poll was released in June 2022. The story should have made clear that the poll was released in June 2021. A Gallup poll released in June 2022 showed similar results, with 71% of U.S. adults saying they think same-sex unions should be recognized by law.

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris says Indiana’s proposed abortion ban reflects a health care crisis in the United States. She met Monday with Democratic state legislators on the first day of a contentious special legislative session in Indiana. Harris traveled to Indianapolis as several thousand people on both sides of the issue filled Statehouse corridors and lined sidewalks surrounding the building. Indiana’s Republican Senate leaders last week proposed banning abortions with limited exceptions — in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. Indiana is one of the first Republican-run states to debate tighter abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade.

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Lawmakers in West Virginia's Republican majority are hurrying to advance legislation that would ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. The bill bars abortion in almost all cases and makes performing the procedure a felony. Physicians who provide abortions can face three to 10 years in prison. The bill passed through the House health committee and will now go onto judiciary. Lawmakers were scheduled to convene for a special session called by Gov. Jim Justice to consider a plan to reduce the state’s income tax. Just as lawmakers were gaveling in, Justice abruptly added state abortion law to the agenda.

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Less than 24 hours after the unprecedented leak of the draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach.” Since then? Pretty much silence. The Supreme Court won’t say whether it's still investigating. The court also won’t say whether the leaker has been identified or whether anyone has been disciplined. Or whether an outside law firm or the FBI has been called in. Or whether the court will ever offer an accounting of what transpired. Or whether it's taken steps to try to prevent a repeat. To these and other emailed questions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said by email: “The Court has no comment.”

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St. Louis has joined the growing list of Democrat-led cities seeking to help women gain abortion access, even in red states that have largely banned the procedures. Not long after Democratic Mayor Tishaura Jones on Thursday signed a measure providing $1 million for travel to out-of-state clinics, Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued to stop what he called a “blatantly illegal move to spend Missourians’ hard-earned tax dollars" on abortions. The June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade prompted several states, including Missouri, to ban most abortion procedures. Some cities are helping pay for travel to clinics. Others are urging law enforcement not to prioritize abortion ban enforcement.

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California is punching back against two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions as Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a gun control law patterned after a Texas anti-abortion law. He signed the bill Friday, a month after conservative justices overturned women’s constitutional right to abortions and undermined gun control laws in states including California. Newsom is stitching the two controversial topics together in allowing people to sue anyone who distributes several types of illegal weapons. His bill is patterned after a Texas law allowing citizens to sue anyone who provides or assists in providing an abortion. Newsom ran ads criticizing Texas' governor while saying other states should adopt California's version.

California is punching back against two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions as Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a gun control law patterned after a Texas anti-abortion law. He plans to sign the bill Friday, a month after conservative justices overturned women’s constitutional right to abortions and undermined gun control laws in states including California. Newsom is stitching the two controversial topics together in approving a law allowing people to sue anyone who distributes several types of illegal weapons. They would be awarded at least $10,000 in civil damages. Lawmakers patterned the bill after a Texas law allowing citizens to sue anyone who provides or assists in providing an abortion.

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Georgia’s abortion law changed so abruptly Wednesday afternoon that some patients who were in an office waiting for abortions were sent home. A federal appeals court ruled that the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade allows the law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect. Normally, the Georgia ruling wouldn’t take effect for weeks. But a second order Wednesday allowed the law to take effect immediately, meaning clinics had to scramble to determine which clients were still eligible and cancel appointments for others. Now, Georgia patients are likely to join a stream of women seeking abortions outside their home states.

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Abortion clinics in Louisiana can continue operating under the latest order from a state court. A state district judge in Baton Rouge on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction that says officials still can't enforce an anti-abortion “trigger” law while a lawsuit against the legislation plays out. The law was designed to take effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 ruling establishing nationwide abortion rights. Judge Donald Johnson’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and other supporters of legal abortion. Clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans that had ceased operations pending the ruling said they were open again Thursday.

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